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WNBA Star Brittney Griner Freed From Russian Prison As Former U.S. Marine Remains Imprisoned



On Thursday, WNBA player Brittney Griner was released from Russian captivity in a prisoner exchange for a notorious Russian arms dealer. Meanwhile, Paul Whelan, a former Marine jailed in Russia since December 2018 on baseless espionage charges and still remains in Russian captivity.

Griner was arrested in February at a Moscow airport for drug smuggling charges. She was sentenced in August to nine years in prison.

“Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner,” Biden announced on Thursday. “She is safe. She is on a plane. She is on her way home, after months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances. Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones and she should have been there all along. This is a day we’ve worked toward for a long time. We never stopped pushing for her release.”

In response to the news that Griner was released, former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who is imprisoned in Russia on baseless espionage charges, criticized the Biden administration because “more has not been done” for his release.

“I am greatly disappointed that more has not been done to secure my release, especially as the four-year anniversary of my arrest is coming up,” Whelan told CNN from a Russian prison.

“I was arrested for a crime that never occurred. I don’t understand why I’m still sitting here,” he added.

Whelan’s brother, David Whelan, released a statement saying that his family is “glad that Brittney Griner is on her way home,” but that the family “is still devastated” that Paul Whelan remains imprisoned.

“Despite the possibility that there might be an exchange without Paul, our family is still devastated,” David Whelan said. “I can’t even fathom how Paul will feel when he learns. Paul has worked so hard to survive nearly 4 years of this injustice. His hopes had soared with the knowledge that the US government was taking concrete steps for once towards his release. He’d been worrying about where he’d live when he got back to the U.S.”

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